Aug. 10, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Michael Morse (38) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE
Michael Morse played just seven games in the Nationals' system before the outfielder returned to the majors and made his 2012 debut at home in Washington, D.C. After his third game with the Nats' High-A affiliate in Potomac, the 30-year-old Morse, who'd suffered a lat injury early this Spring that eventually shut him down, told the P-Nats' announcer Tim Swartz that he thought he was just about ready to return. "I think every day I'm getting a little bit better and better when it comes to my timing," Morse said, "I know my swing and I've played this game long enough that it's just a matter of a couple days and I'll feel normal. So, I mean, I'm pretty much there already, so it doesn't take long for me to get it back." Two days later, on June 2nd, Morse was back in the Nationals' lineup against the Atlanta Braves.
Morse was 0 for 9 before he got his first hit. Following a 2 for 3 game against the Mets on June 6th, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson said he had started to see signs that Morse was getting more comfortable at the plate. "He's quieter up there. Looks like he's not as anxious," Johnson told reporters, and the middle-of-the-order slugger was starting to go the other way. "He hits the ball as hard [to right] as he does the other way," Johnson said, "He's too dangerous not to keep the ball away from him. You've got to keep the ball away from him, otherwise you open up a whole new ballgame where he can extend on the balls in on him. I liked his patience tonight, that shows me he's zeroing in."
Morse finished the month of June with a .299/.313/.439 line with six doubles and three home runs in 26 games and 112 plate appearances. Morse hit four doubles and five home runs in 113 plate appearances in July, finishing his second month of the season with a .305/.345/.486 line that left him at .302/.329/.462 on the year with 10 doubles and eight home runs in 52 games and 225 PA's. The hard-hitting outfielder has hit in 18 of the last 19 games with four doubles and six home runs over that stretch and three home runs in the last two games, two of them opposite field blasts and one a tape-measure shot to left that traveled 434 ft to left field in Houston's Minute Maid Park on Thursday night.
Morse's opposite field home run last night in Arizona, (which you can watch HERE), traveled 446 ft to right-center over the 413ft sign on Chase Field's center field fence and as MASN's Bob Carpenter called it, "... over a 25 foot wall and up on to the concourse." ESPN's Stats & Info Twitter account reported that it was the longest opposite field blast of the 2012 campaign during last night's game:
Nats' skipper Davey Johnson, as usual, had the best line of all on Morse last night, as reported by NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) on Twitter:
Davey on Morse's opposite-field homers: "They're not going in the seats. They're going in the concession stands."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) August 11, 2012
After going 1 for 5 last night, Morse has a .297/.319/.473 line on the year. Last night's solo home runs was Morse's 11th of 2012. Eight of the eleven home runs this year have been center or opposite field blasts. Pitchers are keeping the ball away from Morse and he's powering them out. Last season Morse hit 15 of 31 to center or right field. His longest home run this year, however, went out to left-center when Atlanta Braves' right-hander Tommy Hanson made the mistake of trying to pitch Morse inside. It's the longest HR in Nationals Park's brief history:
• Morse's longest home run of 2011? Wrigley Field vs Matt Garza: